Thursday, June 13, 2013

Kingdom Rush: Frontiers [Ironhide Game Studio] - $2.99/$4.99 [HD]

Last year the Tower Defense game Kingdom Rush took the iOS strategy gaming world by storm. Fans of the genre couldn’t get enough of it and many consider it the best TD game on the iOS, some even consider it the best on any gaming platform. That’s some insanely high praise right there, especially considering the high number of quality Tower Defense titles that are out there. Now fans of the very well received original can experience the sequel and it’s everything you’d expect a sequel to be. Kingdom Rush Frontiers takes the original’s gameplay and adds quite a bit to it while keeping the basic mechanics and gameplay in-tact.

If you’re not familiar with the original Kingdom Rush, it’s a cartoonish/comic looking hardcore Tower-Defense title that strives to put strategy and player involvement over anything else, unlike most TD titles where it’s basically ‘place your towers and watch the level for the outcome’. You’re given 4 types of towers, Archers, Knights, Mages and Cannons, each of which can eventually be upgraded and turned into a ‘super’ tower; Knights can become Assassins, Archers can create a Crossbow Fort, Cannons can become a DWAARP, a Dwarven supertower that slows all enemies down and the Mage tower can be upgraded to an Archmage tower with charged bolts. Each of these ‘super’ towers also has special abilities which can have devastating effects on the opposition. 

For each of the levels there are 3 different gameplay modes to try and tackle, each also having 3 difficulty levels to choose from. Classic Mode puts you up against the enemies with all of your towers in-tact and the ability to upgrade them to their full potential. You’ll also be able to employ your Hero who can run freely throughout the stage helping you take out baddies whenever needed. This is the main mode, and includes a great storyline along with it. Heroic Mode gives you 1 life (if one enemy breaks through the barrier, you loose) and puts you up against 6 waves of elite enemies while maxing out your towers at a lower level and no hero. The last mode is Iron Mode, putting you through 1 super wave of enemies with 1 life, a set limit to the max level of your towers, no hero and also only gives you 2 towers to work with. With all of this, including Casual, Normal and Veteran difficulties, there’s quite a challenge to be had by gamers of all skill-sets. 

Frontiers contains all of this along with new enemies, new terrains and environments, new heroes, new abilities and new super towers. Like the original, you’ll earn gems alongside hero and upgrade points which can be distributed among your towers and to make your hero an even stronger force to be reckoned with. Gems can be spent in the shop to purchase special items like extra health points, dynamite that can take out a very small grouping of enemies, a frozotov which can freeze a small group of enemies, a super bomb that can wipe out every enemy on the screen, a gold bag which gives you more gold for a stage and a chill wand which freezes all the enemies on the screen for a short period of time. You are able to purchase more gems from the game’s IAP shop, but this is not necessary to complete the game. The game is also not directly pushed towards purchasing these gems even though it might feel that way with the heightened difficulty of the gameplay, each stage can be completed without using any extra items. You can also purchase extra heroes from the shop with prices ranging from $2.99 to $4.99 and even a $6.99 hero. Just like gems, these are not required to complete the game, and you are given 3 free heroes to choose from while playing, but they are there if you’re interested in supporting the developers or just getting a stronger hero to help you through the game. 

While there will be some that are turned off the by inclusion of IAPs I feel that I should say this. There still is a lot of strategy involved. Going through a stage and getting your butt kicked and then changing your strategy and playing through the stage again and again is something that’s still here in KR Frontiers, especially if you’re striving to complete the game on Veteran difficulty with a 3 star rating on each stage and completing the extra modes. There’s a crazy amount of gameplay here for the entry price of $2.99 ($4.99 if you want the HD/iPad only version), and that feeling of completing the game perfectly is still a great reward within itself, especially if you do not drop extra money into the game to make it easier. The only reason you should feel the need to purchase any of the IAPs is to support the developer, to make the game easier (which is a tough one to say here, especially since Casual Difficulty is meant for first-timer TD players) or to experience playing the game in a new light with a new hero, kind of like a modified version (which it basically is when you unlock an IAP hero). So unless you’re totally against IAPs in your video games, it shouldn’t be an issue at all here. 

On top of all of this, there is GameCenter integration with a whopping 72 achievements to try and unlock, and believe me when I say that this will take a while and require some replaying of stages. KR Frontiers has definitely raised the bar for Tower Defense games and is easily one of the best in the genre. Even if you’re not a fan of TD games, this is still one that you should check out, as it might very well make you a fan, or bring you back into the TD gaming scene. I really can’t recommend it enough. 


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